- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 1, 2015

While insurgent groups in the Middle East pose an immediate threat to America’s national security, a report released Wednesday says the country must at the same time shift its focus to state actors such as Iran, Russia and North Korea, because the threat of war with a major power is “low, but growing.”

“Today, and into the foreseeable future, we must pay greater attention to challenges posed by state actors. They increasingly have the capability to contest regional freedom of movement and threaten our homeland,” according to the National Military Strategy for 2015.

The report specifically talks about threats from North Korea, Iran, Russia and China, which has continued aggressive land grabs in the South China Sea that violate international law.

“None of these nations are believed to be seeking direct military conflict with the United States or our allies. Nonetheless, they each pose serious security concerns which the international community is working to collectively address by way of common policies, shared messages and coordinated action.

Future conflicts for the U.S. military will likely be lengthier and will have to be fought with diminished resources, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in a foreword to the report.

“We are more likely to face prolonged campaigns than conflicts that are resolved quickly,” Gen. Dempsey wrote. “Control of escalation is becoming more difficult and more important and that as a hedge against unpredictability with reduced resources, we may have to adjust our global posture.”

Attacks, especially on communications systems or other cyber networks, will be “unpredictable, costly and difficult to control.” The report specifically references a cyberattack from North Korea that caused “major damage” to a U.S. company. North Korea launched a cyberattack on Sony Corp. late last year over the release of “The Interview,” a fictional movie about a plot to assassinate the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

These increasing issues, among others such as proliferation of ballistic missiles, weapons of mass destruction and unmanned systems, are threatening America’s place as a top country in defense.

“The United States is the world’s strongest nation, enjoying unique advantages in technology, energy, alliances and partnerships, and demographics. However, these advantages are being challenged,” the report says.

• Jacqueline Klimas can be reached at jklimas@washingtontimes.com.

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